GREENSBORO, N.C. - UNCG women's soccer clinches home field advantage in the first round of the 2019 Southern Conference tournament on Friday, defeating visiting Western Carolina by a score of 3-1. Sophomore forward Nicole Souply scored the second brace of her career to push the Spartans over the finish line, while Cienna Rideout's last-minute finish secured Head Coach Michael Coll's 60th win as the UNCG skipper.
"That's fantastic for all the players that I've been coaching here," said Coll, when asked about his 60th win. "They've been wonderful people to be around and I'm delighted that they've let me be a part of so many wins."
After going without a shot in the first 22 minutes of the match, Souply opened the Spartans' scoring account for the evening on a pass from teammate Jordin Mosley. The striker's timed run up the middle put her in prime position for a low cross from Mosley, whose ball sent across the frame of goal left Souply open for the tap-in.
It took just 10 minutes for the visitors to knot things up at a goal apiece however, after starting goalkeeper Abby Buchholz' second save of the evening led to a rebound opportunity for WCU, who put away the chance to move the score to 1-1 before halftime.
It did not take long into the second half for Souply to get back on the scoresheet, with the Spartans taking six unanswered shots to open the latter 45 minutes. After an attempt from Grace Kennedy was blocked toward the endline, midfielder Isabelle Blomdahl kept the play alive with a ball sent into back into the box, where Souply provided the finish just inside the six-yard box.
With a goal in hand, the Spartans played behind the ball for the majority of the final 30-plus minutes, before a hard-fought effort from senior Cienna Rideout provided a two-goal cushion for the home team in the 90th minute. Playing from behind, the Catamounts pushed players forward, giving Rideout a counter attack opportunity after winning a 50-50 ball near midfield. The striker sped past WCU's last line of defense for a one-on-one chance with the keeper, dribbling around the outstretched arms of the Western Carolina netminder for her 30th career finish.
"Hard is the optimal word, she [Cienna Rideout] is a hard kid," said Coll. "She wants to work so hard to create goal scoring chances for herself, so I'm delighted that she got that goal because she deserved it. She's somebody that's always going to be dangerous, because she's worked so hard to try and create things for us offensively."
Moving to 6-2-0 on the conference season, the remainder of the Spartans' season will be played inside UNCG Soccer Stadium, with their final match of the regular season coming at home against ETSU. The side's win guarantees they will host a quarterfinal match this year, while the program is already slated to host all of this year's tournament semifinals and finals contests
"That's what we were hoping to do," said Rideout after the match. "The main things we need to work on, are just defensively not letting any goals in. We need to stay strong defensively and also smart offensively, by taking our chances and finishing the ball in the goal."
Three Things To Know
-- With her 30th career goal, Rideout sits just a single tally shy of tying alum Kristin Player for the seventh-most career goals in Spartan history
-- This is the third year in a row the Spartans have clinched home field advantage in the Southern Conference Tournament
-- UNCG could clinch as high as a No. 2 seed this Sunday against ETSU, provided they defeat the Bucs and Samford loses its regular season closer against Chattanooga
COMING UP NEXT
The Spartans wrap up the regular season on Sunday with a 2 p.m. home kickoff against ETSU, as the program recognizes Cienna Rideout, Grace Regal, Grace Kennedy and Marissa Ferrantino during this year's 'senior day' match. UNCG is 12-5-0 against the Bucs all-time, and holds a 6-1-0 record against the program when playing in Greensboro.
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